If you qualify for Italian citizenship by descent but you are on the fence about obtaining your Italian passport, don’t be. There are numerous Italian dual citizenship benefits, and you might be pleased to know some of them are quite good!
Many Americans of Italian descent obtain Italian citizenship every year, and the number is only growing. According to this interview with an Italian consulate worker, each consulate handles approximately 175 applications every month. That’s over 2,000 applications per year, and there are 10 Italian consulates in the US! These applicants know what I know: that there are very few, if any, disadvantages of claiming your right to Italian dual citizenship.
In this post, I’ll give you 5 tangible Italian dual citizenship benefits. Let’s get started.
1. Affordable healthcare
Italy’s national health plan (Servizio sanitario nazionale) provides universal coverage for hospital and medical benefits. The Italian public health system is decentralized and operates at three levels: the State, region, and local health boards.
Based on its overall quality, equity of access, and the general health and life expectancy of Italians, Italy’s healthcare system is consistently ranked among the best in the world. Many medications, both prescription and over the county, are covered by the national health service and are either free or low cost based on your income bracket.
By law, every Italian town and city must have a pharmacy open at night. So, in an emergency not only do you have access to excellent, affordable healthcare, you’re also never too far from the help you need.
2. Affordable education
Therefore, if you are thinking about going to college or have college-bound children, Italian citizenship is an excellent option. As European citizens, you or your children have the right to enroll in European schools at local tuition rates. In places like Italy, Denmark, or Ireland, tuition is either free or incredibly affordable. For forward thinking parents or young adults, Italian citizenship can be a lifeline and allow you to study without being saddled with debt.
There are also numerous countries such as the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Ireland, and Scotland, which offer entire degree programs in English.
3. Employment prospects
As a dual U.S./Italian citizen, your European passport allows you to compete at the same level as all other European citizens for jobs. This is excellent for your potential employers because it means you don’t require sponsorship.
Back home in the United States, having Italian citizenship allows makes you stand out from the pack. Employers with offices abroad may hire you over single citizenship applicants because you are more mobile and require less paperwork in the event of a job transfer.
4. You can live in the European Union as long as you like
EU citizenship affords you certain rights, freedoms, and legal protections. One of these is the ability to live in Europe longer than the 90 days afforded by your US passport.
With dual Italian citizenship, you can not only live in Italy for as long as you like, but it also opens up other EU countries to you. You will never have to worry about obtaining a visa ever again.
5. It’s the gift that keeps on giving
For many Italian Americans, obtaining dual citizenship is a way of honoring their heritage and helping their stories come full circle. But the last tangible benefit of obtaining Italian citizenship is a serious one: it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
We’ve discussed before on this blog that Italian citizenship is passed down from parent to child without generational limits. That means that once you obtain your Italian passport, you pass down citizenship to your children. Then when the time comes, they will pass Italian citizenship to their children.
This way, Italian citizenship can “live on” within your family as an incredible legacy to leave to your loved ones.
Honorable mentions (little known Italian dual citizenship benefits)
Protection from two consulates
If you are ever abroad and find yourself in trouble or need of assistance, you can seek help from two consulates. As a dual U.S./Italian national, you are entitled to protection from both the American and Italian consulates or embassies. This is an Italian dual citizenship benefit that can potentially save your life.
Less red tape
Have you ever wanted to purchase property in Italy? It’s significantly easier to do if you are an Italian citizen.
There is no more draft in Italy
Italy moved to end its compulsory military service In January 2003 and since January 1, 2005 there is officially no more draft. Neither you nor your male sons will have to worry about being drafted into the Italian military.
Italy does not tax its citizens abroad
Unlike the United States, Italy does not tax its citizens abroad. This, in my opinion, is one of the best Italian dual citizenship benefits. Furthermore, Italian citizens living abroad do not have to file Italian tax returns. Additionally, there is a Foreign Earned Income Exclusion treaty between Italy and the United States which prevents double taxation.
This all sounds great. So how do I get Italian dual citizenship?
Obtaining Italian dual citizenship is a matter of proving your claim. You do this by showing an unbroken “chain” of Italian citizenship leading from your last Italian-born ancestor back to you.
To apply for Italian dual citizenship, you must make an appointment at your local consulate or, alternatively, seek residency in Italy and apply at a comune (town).
During your application, you will show various birth, marriage, death, and naturalization records. For more information about what happens at a consular appointment, click here. For more information about the specific documents you’ll need, read this blog post.
Becoming an Italian citizen
Being successful in claiming Italian citizenship means that you’ll enjoy the privileges and responsibilities of Italians citizens who were born in Italy. Holding an Italian passport is one of them, but consider the following:
- You will not have to give up your U.S. citizenship when you become Italian. Both countries allow for dual citizenship, and Italian citizenship was actually passed down to you automatically at birth (if you qualify).
- You do not have to speak Italian in order to gain Italian citizenship by descent. However, learning Italian would be excellent! You could integrate yourself fully with the locals should you decide to move to Italy.
- Since 2018, spouses seeking Italian citizenship due to marriage with an Italian citizen must pass an Italian language test at the B1 level (Common European Framework for Languages). Women marrying an Italian citizen before April 27, 1983 are exempt from this requirement.
Costs and Logistics
- You cannot submit your application by mail. Whether you apply in Italy or in the United States, you’ll need to go in person.
- A consular application is subject to a 300 euro fee for each person over the age of 18 applying. This fee is not refundable regardless of the outcome of your application.
My personal thoughts
When I found out I was eligible for Italian dual citizenship (I was 14), I was over the moon excited. I always wanted to live in Italy, and the possibility of having an Italian passport made my dreams suddenly become reality. I spent a good 4 years gathering documents, doing genealogical research, and pounding the pavement the old fashioned way. In those days, there was very little information online about Italian citizenship so it was pretty much trial and error.
Now, over 15 years removed from my first foray into Italian citizenship I can say that it was the best decision I ever made. Not only was I able to study in Italy, I now live and work in Turin. Every day, I get to do what I love (help people become Italian citizens just like me!) and I am so proud to have “closed the circle” on my family’s history.